B2B Product Launch Checklist for Startups: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

  • April 13, 2018

If you are contemplating launching a SaaS product, it is obvious to have several questions and doubts running across your mind. However, with a little probe, one can get hold of all the information the internet holds about tips, tricks, and advice about SaaS product launches. One will hardly come across a list of pitfalls that should be avoided while launching your SaaS product. 

pitfalls of startups
Contemplate with precautions before launching your SaaS product

These are issues that can arise before, during, or even after the launch. These are the perils that your college degrees or theoretical classrooms won’t teach – rather you will learn about them with time, experience, observations, and practice.

Since launching a SaaS product comes with several risks and pitfalls that can pull the entire project down, here is a short list of mistakes to avoid.

For SaaS companies, every launch is not a grand launch. Regular releases are more about re-communicating your idea or thinking about new ways to package your product for the market. So, as you prepare for your next launch, whether big or small, it makes sense to ensure that you’re avoiding the following troubles.

B2B Product Launch Checklist for Startups: 7 Pitfalls to Avoid

1. Marketing without Targeting

Most of the people are so excited about the product idea and its market benefits that they focus only on the technology part and make sure that they develop the perfect code. When the product is ready, they create a website and try to figure out some sort of formulating a business plan (through a trial and error process) and wait to attract the people automatically; but unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way. With time, they establish a sales team and make some occasional profits, but that won’t make any remarkable difference in the profit.

So, it is imperative to first decide and determine your product’s target market before you start developing it in a full-fledged way because, without that, the whole exercise will be like ‘shooting in the dark’. Define the space to position your product, research, and know your target audience, understand their needs, core pain points, everyday challenges, requirements, and consumer behavior. In fact, materializing your idea into a product with excellent features and a well-designed marketing approach must run in parallel.

Start with building an audience on your own before launching the product. For example, create a blog to attract attention and raise curiosity, and this will make your product carve a space out in your customers’ minds!

2. Untimely product introduction

Ensure you don’t launch your SaaS product too early or too late – both cases can have a detrimental effect on your product’s fate. Company owners sometimes get driven by the competition or excitement of introducing a product that they overlook the readiness of the software system or the core features that the product promises. As a result, a sub-standard version of the product is launched without any competitive edge, and it consequently fails to meet customers’ expectations. At the same time, you should not be too late in this game of SaaS product launch to avoid being called a ‘me-too’ product. Finding that sweet spot of the perfect time when you can hit the nail when it is hot is essential!

A product should be launched when the market is ripe, and the needs (for such a product) have started to show among the customers who are ready to try the product to gain proven business value. Also, ensure your product is ready and agile enough to meet customers’ needs and evolving business requirements. It’s better to do specific product research and surveys to gather industry trends, insights about customer experiences and expectations from the product, their core pain points, and competitors’ offerings before deciding the right time for product launch.

3. Insufficient pricing information

The pricing of the SaaS product is relative. Ideally, it should be based on how broad the audience is for your product, the target market your product wants to serve, and how significant it is to solve their challenges and business problems. It is vital to understand how unique your product in the market is, what are critical business value it brings, and the ROI that your product aims to get for the customers’ business.

So, what can go wrong with pricing?

i) No pricing pages:

Many companies either don’t have a pricing page, or it is there with a lot of ambiguity. If your aim is growth, then it is in the best interest to give data and information that people usually want as transparently as possible – like the price of your product.

ii) Having Only One Price:

A simple pricing structure is always good, but it should be reasonable for the people who visit your site to buy. Please note that if you have a single price for all needs, it might not fit a specific organization’s budget. Hence, the pricing structure consists of two to four price points to cater to enterprises with different budget factors. It is important to be affordable, organized, and flexible regarding product pricing.

iii) Having Too Many Price Options:

On the other hand, don’t confuse or spoil the prospective customers/buyers with too many pricing options, which often fail to maintain relevance or simplicity. It is advisable to hit a balance when you offer a proper pricing structure with just as many options as needed logically. Understand your product well, its bundle of features, and its enterprise advantages, and consider the business size of your customers before defining the product’s pricing structure.  Decide and customize the pricing options that work for you and your audience – a monthly, quarterly, yearly, or subscription basis.

4. Unsystematic Sales Processes

Before launching a SaaS product, one needs to have a well-designed business plan for the product to be sales-ready. Otherwise, it ends up nowhere. When the customers buy your product, they are shelling out some sizeable money. Obviously, they will expect a transparent process of how to use the product. It is crucial to ensure that the user manual, product tutorials, case studies, and FAQs are available for exploration before launch. Product owners should understand that leaving things for the customers to assume, especially about how to use, set, and implement the product, will surely not add any value to the sales cycle.

Also, if visitors have liked your product, expressed further interest, and landed up in the lead funnel, they probably have reached a point of decision-making. This is where they have clicked the demo CTA or are conversing with your reps.

Some mistakes may happen in this phase:

i) Broad Pitch

A focused sales pitch helps in bringing quality leads. If the pitch is very generic, it may end up in bulk traffic, mainly consisting of irrelevant leads, and hence, the chances of conversions will be lower than expected.

ii) Harsh Pitch

Some representatives have the habit of using high-pressure pitches. And some even end up in fast and misleading conversations leading to false information-sharing or promises with no documentation. In these cases, prospects might not get converted into customers; even if they do, they will not stick around for long. So, it is wise to focus on developing sales conversations and pitches based on proper and valid process documentation to help your sales team avoid unnecessary pressure.

iii) Fast Pitch

It’s the internet age, meaning most buyers are already aware of your product’s existence. But what if your sales reps are not ready with the required material or the supporting information for educating himself/themselves as well as the prospects?

Consider the following aspects:

  • Do you have the list of target segments to give the correct info?
  • Do you have the answers to the probable questions that your prospects might ask the sales reps?
  • Can you back those answers with sufficient content/documentation?
  • Have you assessed your current content and improved it for better sales qualification?
  • Is your sales deck format outdated? Static slide decks and PDFs can be hard to follow, so maybe you should consider an interactive sales deck creator instead.

5. Inadequate human resource

Launching a SaaS product doesn’t only need a single team who is good at building the core product. Having all the key resources/officials to take care of other crucial tasks like operations, HR, design, marketing, software testing, and so on is essential. Not having adequate executives who share different shades of expertise can be a major flaw for the SaaS startup. However, in case your company lacks proper human resources, it is advisable to outsource some of the usual yet pivotal tasks.

Don’t consider doing everything yourself because it is better to do what you are best at and leave the rest of the work to the best HR outsourcing company experts. Often outsourcing is a good option for teams with better experience and competency to build a SaaS product.

6. Inadequate time for initial product queries

Not dedicating and allocating a specific amount of time to handle the initial customer queries and curiosity factors can turn into a major pitfall for SaaS product builders – the absence of which might result in significant sales failure. At least a week or two should be dedicated after the product launch to handling initial customer support, fine-tuning the unavoidable problems customers will encounter, and updating the product as required.

7. Poor Customer Service

It is essential to provide consistently good customer service, as that is one of the most critical deciding factors for the customers to continue with your product, month on month or year on year. The news of customer dissatisfaction is believed to spread faster than the accolades for good service.  

While growth is defined by getting new customers on board consistently, you cannot afford to ignore the importance of the existing ones – equally crucial for the SaaS product’s success. So, a major pitfall can be avoided if you never lose focus on the existing customer base. It is crucial to retain the current customers, who form the foundation of new ones. Hence keeping customers satisfied and taking care of their issues should be prioritized.

Keeping the above point in mind, let’s understand why customers stop using your product.

i) Slow updates

The early stage of the product life cycle might confront certain obvious problems that need to be finetuned. But failing to address those issues is definitely not a good sign. Hence, the Agile/Scrum development process, like Scrum Artifacts, can help deal with these issues quickly and iteratively to keep customers from going away and to retain them with timely customer service.

ii) Lack of Post-Sale Communication

Not having after-sales relationship management with clients is a pitfall you must avoid.

Imagine this scenario. You have a perfect pitch, your pricing is set right, you are constantly updating your software, and your business is doing well. But then, suddenly, something new from the competitor, which happens to be your niche area, comes along. This ‘something new’ might address your customer requirements better and is getting much of your client’s attention. This proves to be pretty detrimental to your own brand.

However, this scenario can be avoided if you follow and adhere to a strategic customer communication and engagement process to constantly converse and interact with them about understanding their business goals and pain points and suggesting how to mitigate those successfully using your product. An enduring customer communication system positively influences your customer lifetime value – both in terms of permanency with the initial purchase and the ability for add-on sales in the future.

Conclusion

They say experience is nothing but our summary of committed mistakes. Hence, it’s OK to make mistakes unless and until we get the right lessons out of them. We tried to bring you this topic to help you avoid some significant afflictions of SaaS product launch, along with the best possible ways to eliminate them with the correct steps to keep marching ahead towards growth. The best part is that we have gathered all these insights from our experiences, observations, failures, and achievements.

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Sonali has an extensive experience in content writing, marketing, and strategy and she has worked with companies where she was involved in the 360-degree content production and editing. An avid reader and animal lover, she loves to cook, take care of her plants and travel.
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